Western Europe is possibly one of the most visited areas on earth and for good reason. It boasts some of Europe’s most picturesque landscapes with large portions of the land dominated by mountains that are dotted with beautiful glacial lakes.
It is also home to some of the finest architecture with opulent Imperial palaces and Cathedrals draped in priceless arts, colorful murals, ornate ceilings and exquisite carvings.
From the Black Forest in Germany, to the canals and coffee shops of Amsterdam, from Rhineland vineyards and castles to the mountain villages in Switzerland, from the music halls of Vienna to the beaches on the French Riviera, each country wears its individual culture like a badge.
Each bound together by history but proud of their distinctive charm. Whether you drink hot chocolate in Switzerland, taste fine wines in France or quaff beer in Berlin, each experience is distinct and valued.
Countries in Western Europe
Located high in the Alps, the Austrian countryside is one of beautiful crystalline lakes, craggy mountain peaks and fertile green valleys. Railway lines zip along the peaks of the mountains making possible the highest and most scenic of train journeys. In the valley of the Danube tranquil vineyards tempt the visitor.
Whilst the landscape is exquisite, it is the architecture, which is truly awe-inspiring. Opulent Imperial palaces attest to the great wealth and power of kingdoms past. Magnificent cathedrals with graceful spires and gilt and marble interiors, are the backdrop to imposing works of art that adorn walls and ceilings.
Gothic, classical and baroque buildings and captivating statues are a testament to the legacy of great artists and architects of former times. In cities and towns old houses and narrow lanes of yore are still in excellent condition, with Austria boasting some of the best-preserved old towns in Europe.
Often overlooked by tourists Belgium has much to offer. With over three thousand castles, no other country in Europe has more castles. The many museums and art galleries in every main Belgian city reflect the pride that the people have in the great Flemish artists that made this area the melting pot of European art. The artworks offer a genuine feast for the art lover.
Tapestries and artworks are also to found in the many medieval churches. Belgium cities are built around large town squares that boast belfries, spires and gabled houses and of course modern restaurants and bars.
Belgium is famous for its chocolates, for French fries and for its wide range of beers. There are more than one thousand breweries around the country. For those looking for some outdoor activities, the Ardennes forest offers the opportunity to ski or take a hike along the forest trails.
France has everything, Alpine mountains, a sparkling coastline, vineyards, fantastic palaces, ancient castles and monasteries, and to cap it all it is also famous for its great cuisine and wines. From the legendary Eiffel Tower and the Louvre in Paris to the beautiful Palace of Versailles just outside, a visit to this city is a must.
The French Riviera, with its long beaches and azure Mediterranean coastline has been drawing the rich and famous for years, as have the ski slopes of the majestic French Alps.
France is also home to some of the best Roman amphitheaters and aqueducts outside of Italy and some of the best wines in the world are made in the province of Bordeaux. Visitors to the vineyards can sip wines in cellars that are hundreds of years old.
Extending from the Alps to the North Sea, Germany has a wonderful landscape that includes mountains, the Black Forest, beaches, hundreds of tranquil waterways, and in the Alps, lakes of icy water.
Although Germany is famous for its beer, the banks of the Rhine River are full of vineyards. The lush landscape of the magical Black Forest, with its distinctive houses, is not to be missed.
Germany is full of magical castles, palaces, fortresses and magnificent churches and cathedrals, sporting gold and marble columns and beautifully painted ceilings. In Germany, you will find the highest church spire in the world.
In the old towns, well-preserved half-timber houses decorated with colorful murals line cobble stone roads. Art galleries, museums and magnificent monuments abound, and alongside all this history, some of the most vibrant and modern cities in Europe.
Situated between Austria and Switzerland, Liechtenstein is the last remains of the Holy Roman Empire. In the Alps and on the banks of the River Rhine, the country is known for its great natural beauty.
It measures just sixty-two square miles, and there are only eleven villages in the country. Despite only granting women the vote in 1984, it boasts modern buildings and art galleries in its capital Vaduz.
Liechtenstein is landlocked. It has neither harbor nor airport. Its low taxes have attracted a large number of businesses to the country. Tourism and sports make up a large part of the country’s economy.
Tourists take ski lifts up into the Alps to ski in winter and to hike and enjoy the panoramic views in summer. Mountain trails connect charming villages and medieval castles.
Located between Germany, France and Belgium, Luxembourg is the only Grand Duchy in the world. It is also one of the richest countries in the world.
Luxembourg City, its capital, boasts large and modern pedestrian shopping areas with many contemporary buildings, alongside a stately palace and the walled old city built upon the cliffs that overlook the valley below.
Underground tunnels built during the eighteenth century to bolster up the city’s defenses, run beneath. In the countryside, vineyards bask on the steep banks of the Moselle River. The mountains are peppered with castles and picturesque chateaux.
Cycle or hike through the Ardennes forest with its hills and sparkling streams, or take a ride in the Valley of Seven Castles to find prehistoric caves and the many medieval ruins.
Monaco is situated on the Mediterranean coast of France. At two hundred hectares the only country in the world that is smaller than Monaco is the Vatican City.
The country is located on a peninsula that juts out into the sea. It is a tax haven that attracts the rich and famous to its shores so its harbor is crammed with luxurious yachts and expensive motorboats.
Gamble at the casinos or just ogle at the rich décor of the surroundings. Casinos were first built here in the 1850’s, and soon became so successful that taxes were no longer required from the citizens.
Visit the royal palace or one of the best oceanography museums in the world. Enjoy the glittering nightlife and great cuisine or just take a walk on the pretty sandy beaches.
Once a powerful trading nation, Dutch architecture reflects this history. Amsterdam is unique and is known for its canals, listing, gabled houses, bicycles, antique barges and flower markets. The countryside is full of picture-perfect towns with windmills, canals and cottages with gardens full of flowers.
Holland has been reclaiming land from the sea for centuries. As a result, the country has doubled in size over the last four hundred years, and the remains of small fishing villages can be found in the midst of farmlands.
Holland is the home of Van Gogh (the museum has five hundred of his works) Heineken beer, Delft pottery and the largest flower garden in the world.
All cities are easy to reach, as transport in Holland is relatively cheap. Intercity trains are fast and inexpensive and the country has nearly twenty thousand kilometers of cycle paths.
Switzerland is one of the most beautiful destinations in Europe and one of the most expensive. Against the backdrop of the magnificent Alps twenty thousand miles of rivers and hundreds of lakes, wherever you find yourself in Switzerland you are surrounded by panoramic views.
Picturesque villages are scattered all over the mountainsides, which offer fantastic skiing opportunities in winter and hiking or cycling in the summer. Boating and yachting on the lakes is very popular.
Many of the cities have well preserved old towns where cobble stone roads are surrounded by medieval buildings and quaint shops. The cities all boast colorful public gardens, parks and waterfront restaurants and bars.